SlideRocket Blog

Secrets of Presentation Design Guidebook

By John Rode on March 31, 2011

When structured properly, a slide deck can significantly enhance your presentation, enabling you to make what you are saying more impactful, more understandable, and more memorable. This guidebook is a compilation of proven presentation design tips, techniques, and best practices that can help you create winning slide sets.

Structuring Your Slides for Maximum Visual Impact

The way you display information on your slides can make or break your presentation design. It’s a delicate balance – if your slides are dull and boring, you may lose your audience along the way. On the other hand, if they’re too busy – crammed with images or too much text – attendees may be too distracted to absorb what you’re saying. The key to success lies somewhere in between.

Developing a Strong Opening

You have just a small window of opportunity to grab the attention of your audience. So, those first few moments are crucial to laying the foundation for a successful session, setting the tone for how they perceive your content, and more importantly, how they perceive you.

Topics covered in this section of the presentation design guidebook include:

  • Being Creative
  • Getting to the Point
  • Kicking It Up a Notch
  • Picking a Style – And Sticking to It

Using Color to Evoke Emotion

Colors can a very powerful tool in your presentation design, instantly catching the eye of those you are presenting to. Color can enhance learning and retention, promotes interaction and participation, and influence moods. But, if you overuse colors, or use them incorrectly, they may serve to distract more than enhance.

Effective Use of Animation in Presentation Design

The ability to animate text and images is a standard feature in many of today’s presentation maker tools – one that most speakers love to use. When used properly, animation can add significant visual appeal to your slides. But, if you overdo it, the results can be disastrous.

Best practices covered in this chapter are:

  • Keeping it Simple
  • Avoiding “Animation for the Sake of Animation”
  • Using Automatic Slide Transitions Wisely
  • Brief is Better

The Best Ways to Incorporate Multimedia

Video, audio and other multimedia elements are a great way to improve the design of your presentation, giving it the kind of visual punch that takes it to a whole new level. However, when used inappropriately, multimedia can have the opposite effect, serving as more of a distraction than an enhancement.

Great presentation design approaches covered in this section include:

  • Making Sure It’s Relevant
  • Keeping It Professional
  • Variety is Key
  • Thinking Beyond “Live” Presentations

Creating Charts and Diagrams

Charts and diagrams continue to play a prominent role in the design of informative presentations. But, there is a right way – and a wrong way – to structure and use them. Proper chart and diagram construction is critical to conveying your concepts in the most understandable way possible.

 

Handling Numbers and Other Complex Concepts

There will be times when your presentation design must incorporate content that is complex in nature. If these thoughts and ideas are not presented properly, however, they may be lost on your audience members, creating confusion and bewilderment, and minimizing learning and retention.

Closing with a Bang

The “close” may be the most critical portion of your entire presentation. Handle your presentation skills just right, and you’ll leave a lasting impression on your audience. But botch it, and your entire presentation will fall flat.

This chapter will teach you how to:

  • Keep It Brief
  • Tell a Story
  • Remember the Call to Action
  • Stay on Schedule
  • Lead Up to the Ending Gradually

How Mind Mapping Can Improve Your Presentation

At the heart of each mind map is a central theme, with supporting topics and sub- topics logically surrounding it. When designing and building your presentation, a mind map can often help you build slides that are more thorough, complete, and compelling.

Mind Map tips found in this section include:

  • Improving Brainstorming
  • Better Organizing Content
  • Beating “Writer’s Block”
  • Avoiding Gaps
  • Keeping the Objective in Mind

The Right Way to Use Handouts

Handouts are a great way to enhance your presentation, serving as a valuable reference tool for your audience members. Yet, most speakers simply print out and distribute copies of their slide set, rendering their handouts somewhat useless.

Helpful hints for using handouts found in this chapter of the guidebook are:

  • Content is Key
  • Focusing on Readability
  • Leaving Room for Notes
  • Double-Checking Your Work
  • When to Distribute

Were You Successful?

You may think you created the perfect slide deck. Your presentation design delivered colors that were bold and attention grabbing. You strategically placed visuals throughout the presentation. Your fonts were attractive and easy to read. You even found some witty video and audio clips to use. But what impact did you have?

This section provides guidance on:

  • Tracking Views and/or Downloads
  • Counting the “Drop Offs”
  • Monitoring the Call to Action
  • Measuring the Business Impact

Few presenters have a solid background in presentation design principles, and even fewer have access to professional graphic design resources to help. Therefore, they are often left to fend for themselves when it comes to creating their slide decks.

With the proven tips and techniques outlined in this guidebook, any speaker – no matter how seasoned – can build a winning slide deck that packs maximum punch!

36 Comments »

  1. Angie Nix

    April 1, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

    Great ideaa! I am crating a storyboard for a digital video for kindergarten graduation program. Your post inspired me and kept me on the right track… I will use the color aspect. great idea. Also, keeping it simple is RIGHT ON! I have learned in the past SImple Solutions First!~Cheers!

  2. John Rode

    April 1, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

    Hi Angie,

    Glad to hear we were able to help your presentation design!

  3. Najmul

    April 6, 2011 @ 12:08 am

    Hi,
    I really liked the idea and thanks for sharing this.
    Will be of great help/

    Regards,
    Najmul

  4. Sergio Legrant

    April 10, 2011 @ 7:11 am

    Why didn’t you release it as a presentation? Or in a presentation format instead of a pdf document? Great advices though! Just teasing you guys! Regards, Sergio

  5. John Rode

    April 12, 2011 @ 9:35 am

    Hi Sergio,

    You’re right! We should (and will) roll that into a slide design presentation. More soon.

    In the meantime, here is a presentation we put together on helpful resources. http://portal.sliderocket.com/AKARC/SlideRocket-Presentation-Resources-Guide

    - John

  6. Jorge Purgly

    June 28, 2011 @ 8:10 am

    Hi John Rode,
    Thank you very much for charing these tips.
    I have a SlideRoket wallpaper on my computer and seems to me, based on the Sliderocket site, that SlideRokcet is a powerfull tool. I am very interested on start my first presentation using it.
    I live in Blumenau, Santa Catarina, South of Brazil and some times I am invited do make presentations to a diverse audience.
    As most of the places have WiFi or internet conections I am most of the time using a blog to make my presentations. No pendrive, no instalations on the the local computer, etc.
    Sometimes the auditorium offers only a computer without internet connection. How can I use SlideRocke also in this situation?
    I would like to
    1- Integrate SlideRocket presentations on my blogger blog, in an article, to use the all potential of this tool anywere and alow the users of my blog to see the presetantion latter on.
    2- Have the same presentation in SlideRocket on my pendrive just in case there is not an internet connection the the presentation room. So I can make the prasentation from the pendrive without installing any document or program on the host computer.
    3- I also have difficulties with the startup of SlideRocket at home. Seems to me that I have to perform a download before I start. Sometimes I use the computer of the office with a very limited allowance on downloads, without previous analisys of the IT team that usually takes a long time,and I would like to start the presentation at the office and finish it at homeoffice.
    Is that means that I can only make SlideRocket Powerfull Presentations from my home computer?
    I also apologise to make these questions not directly regarded to your specific article this time, but I also find the way to get SlideRocket Customer Support a little difficult. So I am taking this direct contact chance.
    4- How can I do to make my first SlideRocket presentation with more help? I would like to convert a PowerPoint Presentation + Video from Youtube + animation into a Powerfull SlideRocket presentation embeded in my blog.
    Thank You very much for your attention.
    All the best from the winter cold of South of Brazil at this time,
    Jorge Purgly
    My social map at http://xeesm.com/JorgePurgly

  7. John Rode

    July 8, 2011 @ 1:50 pm

    Oi Jorge.

    If you live in Blumenau you probably speak German as well!

    Regarding your questions:
    1. To embed SlideRocket in a blog, just copy/paste the embed code into your post. Get started from the “Share” tab, and then “Get embed code”

    2. You can save your presentation to a file and present from any computer while offline. Go here for the steps = http://www.sliderocket.com/product/desktop_presenter.html

    3. You can create and share SlideRocket presentations from any computer. Please check your internet connection, or reach our support team if you continue to have challenges.

    4.You can import your PowerPoint very easily from the “Import” button. And for adding a YouTube video…you just click “Video” and then the “YouTube” tab and copy and paste the video URL.

    Ate Logo Jorge

  8. Joy McCaffrey

    August 29, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

    Hi John,

    You suggest that we “Proofread Thoroughly” yet there are many typos throughout the guidebook. Are you testing us?

    Joy

  9. Rhonda

    October 2, 2011 @ 5:41 pm

    Hi John,

    Thank you so much for this effective resource! My motivation has been refreshed to a new level of inspiration. I am grateful, but I know my students will be more grateful and impressed!

  10. Tammy Menton

    October 2, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

    Hi John,

    I am relatively new to Slirocket, but had a blast creating my first presentation. I was wondering if there is a specific workshop or help section that deals with animation. I have watched a number of the presentations hosted on the site and some of the slides appear to take on a “movie” like effect. Is that achieved through animation?

    Tammy

  11. Nirapada Sarker

    October 10, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

    Thanks you for your presentation.I am highly glad to recieve yourpresentation I am grateful to you. O.K.

    Sincerely yours.No more today.

    N. Sarker

  12. Trenton Scott

    October 18, 2011 @ 4:47 pm

    Thanks for the excellent pointers. Presentations are ingrained in our culture — sometimes we need to take a step back and realize what we could do better.

  13. Vishwas Antin

    November 7, 2011 @ 11:18 pm

    Hi John,

    You really share some very effective presentation techniques on this site…..I am very much helped by the same. Glad you’re doing a good job…keep it up and always grateful to you.

    Vishwas Antin

  14. Pablo Zarbo

    November 29, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

    Greats tips, John.
    I particularly agree with these points:
    # Keep It Brief
    # Remember the Call to Action
    # Stay on Schedule
    Thanks!

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  16. Ruben

    January 12, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

    Tnx i really like your ideas

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  18. Marie

    January 20, 2012 @ 11:22 am

    HI!
    Thanks for the great ideas you shared with us. Short and right to the point. I love it.

  19. aumnmumu

    January 23, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

    It that suitable for biological presention and spicially pharmacology: that great

  20. Kayode

    March 6, 2012 @ 2:24 am

    I have found that videos keep playing when I leave a slide and move on to the next slide. How do I stop this occurrence.
    ie if a video is on slide 8 and I move to slide 9 which is on another topic and does not include a video slide 8′s video continues playing though I am on slider 9.

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  22. Andreas

    November 7, 2012 @ 7:36 am

    Many thanks for the very useful tips, I’ve been already using many of them (e.g. font choice, blue background, opening/closing strategies) either intuitively or following advice from friends or also from having been in the past the audience of top quality presentations, but other points you make where unknown to me so your guide seems useful for people with all levels of presentation skills (from basic to advanced). Thanks again…

  23. John Rode

    November 7, 2012 @ 10:15 am

    Hi Andreas,

    Glad we could help. Many presentation design tips are fairly intuitive so we look for ways to help presenters and presentation creators find unique ways to communicate so they can be more engaging.

    - John

  24. Andreas

    November 7, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

    Despite the “warning” regarding inadequate use of animation, I sometimes miss more powerful animations and/or transitions in comparison with what is offered by most presentation tools today (e.g. Sliderocket, MS Powerpoint and Libreoffice). One example is the extraordinary zooming ability of the aplication called “Prezi” (which in its free version requires the presentations to be publicly available in the internet) or the effect that appears to “freeze” some elements in the current slide while “transitioning” the remaing elements to the ones in the next slide (although this actually seems to parallel the concept of converting a series of standalone pictures to an integrated sequence of images usually known as a movie …). I’ve seen the later effect during a meeting but I’m not sure which app was used for that, it might have been an apple/mac application…

  25. John Rode

    November 7, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

    Andreas,

    Glad to hear you’re pushing the bounds of a conventional presentation! I expect your presentations not only look better, but the audience can sense your dedication to your topic/ideas and will pay you back with their undivided attention.

    - John

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    November 28, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

    seems interesting

  28. Martin

    December 19, 2012 @ 6:35 am

    Thanks for the guide….

    - M

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    Want to build presentations fast? check out the 7 Deck Rules: decklaration.com/7-deck-rules-slides

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